Thursday, December 28, 2017

My Review of Doctor Who's 10x13: "Twice Upon A Time"

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Rachel Talalay

The Doctor: "Doctor, I let you go!"

And now we've come to the end of the road. For some fans, this might be the last episode of Doctor Who they will watch. For others, it's going to be a bit of a wait until Autumn 2018 but for Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi, this was their exit episode and it was something altogether.

It's hard to imagine that Moffat himself has now ran the show for the same length of time as John Nathan Turner did in the 1980s and like Turner, Moffat himself has been a polarising showrunner. Never boring but certainly guilty of certain excesses and perhaps overstaying his welcome in the role. With this episode alone, we're given some of those excesses one last time and more proof that it's not a bad thing that he's handing over the reins to Chris Chibnall.

Twice Upon A Time's premise is simple enough - two Doctors unwilling to regenerate, time frozen, a soldier destined for death in the trenches of World War 1 and an alien presence disguised as Bill Potts trying to get a measure of the Doctor's character. All told within an hour in a regeneration episode that feels decidedly low key to boot.

The two Doctors bit first. I've made no bones on my Twitter account that the idea of Peter Capaldi sharing his final story with a former Doctor was a bad idea and despite a great performance from David Bradley as the First Doctor, this episode only confirmed that it was indeed a bad idea.

Aside from the fact that it's an inappropriate time to do a multi Doctor story, another reason why it doesn't work is that the First Doctor actually adds very little to the episode. No-one was angling to see his regeneration yet again and Moffat's overexaggeration of the character's supposed "sexism" along with some genuinely vomit inducing dialogue towards Bill was something I really could've done without.

On the other hand, he did play well with the Doctor, Bill and the WW1 captain of the piece but everything that Moffat was trying to convey (mainly how the show has evolved over 54 years) could've been done with a return of Susan or simply just left alone although, which would've been preferable as well.

Then there's the Captain of the piece. I'll be honest - Mark Gatiss is a pretty hit and miss actor and having him in this role smacked of favouritism and while he was far from amazing in the role, he wasn't too terrible either. The reveal of his character being the Brigadier's grandfather felt a little indulgent but overall it worked well enough but even his character didn't add a whole lot to this particular outing. That said, the bit with the Christmas Armistice added some festivity to this particular episode.

Then there's the alien presence. Not a baddie as such but the Glass Lady did spend most of her time disguised as Bill because in the future, Testimony (who seem like a less sinister version of Missy's 3W scheme) can use of the memories of the recently departed and take their form. It means that we didn't get to see Bill properly in the episode but it did mean that the Doctor managed to see both Clara and Nardole one last time as his memories of the former were restored at the last minute.

As for the Doctor himself, this was Peter Capaldi's last episode and despite my fear that having another Doctor in the mix would upstage him, it didn't. The Twelfth Doctor hasn't always been my favourite Doctor and his era could've been handled better but he's given a good final outing with some choice dialogue to issue in a new era.

Then there's the new Doctor. It's been over five months since Jodie Whittaker was announced as the new Doctor and aside from two words and being thrown out of the TARDIS in a scene similar to The Eleventh Hour, there's not much to go on just yet as to how she will be in the role but judging by the online reaction so far, she may win over everyone next year.

- The episode started with a Previously On bit for 709 episodes ago in case you didn't think the First Doctor was being lifted from The Tenth Planet. Ben and Polly's appearances are too brief though.
- More archive images of most of the former Doctors during the Testimony scenes. I wouldn't be surprised if we got something a little similar in Whittaker's first episode as well.
- Rusty from Into The Dalek made a cameo appearance in this one as well. Of all the characters to appear in Twelve's last one, he was a bit unexpected.
- Murray Gold got out some of his most famous bits of music during his time on the series as this episode also served as his departure too.
- The episode will be released on DVD from January 22nd. Truth to be told, it should've been a part of the Series 10 box set.
- Chronology: 1914 Ypres, World War 1 at Christmas as well as the South Pole and the Weapons Factories of Villengard.

Twice Upon A Time marks the end of an era and after eight years, I was somewhat hoping that Steven Moffat would go for something a bit bigger and showier for his final episode. It's a good ending for Peter Capaldi's Doctor but easily could've worked better without another Doctor added into the mix but the cameos are nice and the regeneration is well done and there's a whole new era to now look forward to. Thank you Steven and Peter, you did well.

Rating: 7 out of 10

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